Maureen Connolly: Most dominant player ever - Page 2 - TennisForum.com
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post #16 of 76 (permalink) Old Feb 7th, 2005, 02:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Santorofan
Surely a sign of greatness when players from Wills all the way to Evert are compared to you - Connolly certainly set the standard as one of the top two or three female baseliners of all time. Speaking for myself, I would've loved to have watched Maureen play Althea in her prime on a grass court*. From what I recall, the two competed well before Gibson reached her heights, though certainly Connolly would hold the edge - even on grass - regardless.

*Another variable to consider; might Gibson've significantly improved had she not been lured into the pro ranks after such a brief time at the top? Was her coaching/training on par with Connolly's? Also, it seems class issues affected Gibson's career more significantly than a player like Connolly, who (it seems reasonable to gather) like Wills would've quite likely just kept on playing, piling up perhaps 12-15 more GS titles.
Racism is what hurt Althea Gibson's tennis career. Althea wasn't denied a chance to enter the top tournaments because she was poor. They didn't let her play because she was black. From 1944-1949, Althea wasn't allowed to play in the top tournaments and as a result she couldn't play the top players. There's no question it hurt her game.

With Althea it's tough to say what might have happened had she been allowed to play during those formative years. When she started playing against the top players in 1950, she struggled. As far as I know she never beat Doris Hart. Now maybe if Althea had been allowed to play in the top tournaments and against those players in the mid to late 40s, maybe things would have been different.

As for Maureen I don't think things would have been that different. Althea was eight years older than Maureen and Maureen's game was still improving in the mid 50s. As it was, Althea never beat Maureen. To paraphrase Clint Eastwood from Million Dollar Baby " she was younger and better." Keep in mind, Maureen by 1953, had parted ways with Teach Tennant and was working with Aussie great Harry Hopman. I think Maureen's game and fitness level would have greatly improved by the late 50s. In 1957, Maureen would have been 23 years old and at her peak, In 1957, Althea was about 31 years old.

Btw, I think it was Rollo that told me that in the early 60s, Pauline Betz and Althea Gibson played two matches and even though Pauline was older and hadn't played competitive tennis for some time she was still able to win one of the matches. As I said, Althea's game was stunted because of racism.
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post #17 of 76 (permalink) Old Feb 7th, 2005, 03:48 AM
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Roan:

I'm in agreement about racial issues affecting Gibson's career, but what I meant regarding class was that Althea essentially had to stop playing tennis due to the fact that she was basically tired of living hand to mouth like she'd done for most of her life. She wanted to have a home, she wanted some freedom and independence and was tired of constantly asking others to help her. From what I've read, most top players from that period came from at least stable middle class families, with few exceptions. So this may have been a driving force or goal for Althea more so than some of the other top players. Stability. Financial independence. A home...

Regarding Maureen vs Althea, I agree, it is very much apples and oranges. Different life paths which make them difficult to compare. But I do think beyond the fact that Gibson got a late start due for the issues mentioned, I also think that Connolly's game was tailored made to excell earlier on like an Evert's or an Austin's as she was a pure baseliner. She NEVER went to net! On the other hand, Gibson's game was built on pure aggression - around what Chris Evert called a "booming serve" (which incredibly Evert stated Althea still had when they played a match vs one another in the mid-seventies). Thus, I believe it took more years to develop such a game as is normally the case. Is it possible that Althea could've overpowered Maureen on a given day on grass? I think yes, esp if she owned a decent dropshot. What I DO know is that Althea did possess a great offensive lob, which she believes in great part won her one of her two Wimbledon finals...regardless, I realize we'll never know for sure.
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post #18 of 76 (permalink) Old Feb 7th, 2005, 12:03 PM
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I politely disagree...

Quote:
Originally Posted by RoanHJ
Racism is what hurt Althea Gibson's tennis career. Althea wasn't denied a chance to enter the top tournaments because she was poor. They didn't let her play because she was black. From 1944-1949, Althea wasn't allowed to play in the top tournaments and as a result she couldn't play the top players. There's no question it hurt her game.

With Althea it's tough to say what might have happened had she been allowed to play during those formative years. When she started playing against the top players in 1950, she struggled. As far as I know she never beat Doris Hart. Now maybe if Althea had been allowed to play in the top tournaments and against those players in the mid to late 40s, maybe things would have been different.

As for Maureen I don't think things would have been that different. Althea was eight years older than Maureen and Maureen's game was still improving in the mid 50s. As it was, Althea never beat Maureen. To paraphrase Clint Eastwood from Million Dollar Baby " she was younger and better." Keep in mind, Maureen by 1953, had parted ways with Teach Tennant and was working with Aussie great Harry Hopman. I think Maureen's game and fitness level would have greatly improved by the late 50s. In 1957, Maureen would have been 23 years old and at her peak, In 1957, Althea was about 31 years old.

Btw, I think it was Rollo that told me that in the early 60s, Pauline Betz and Althea Gibson played two matches and even though Pauline was older and hadn't played competitive tennis for some time she was still able to win one of the matches. As I said, Althea's game was stunted because of racism.
One of the most revealing things about the Pauline Betz Addie interview was her candid take on playing Althea Gibson. She flatly stated that Althea had a good serve, and an okay forehand, but no backhand to speak of whatsoever (pictures of Chris Evert drooling were dancing across my brain when she said that). You could see in Pauline's eyes (and she has those wonderful, expressive eyes that only age can provide) that she was speaking tennis, and just that. I have no doubt that Althea Gibson's experience as a tennis player was hampered by racism. I also have no doubt that she was not the greatest tennis player- not even in the conversation. She was a great athlete. The concept, and the mere conversation about athletes vs. tennis players sparks heated "racism" debates to this day. Arthur Ashe was a much better tennis player and tactician than Althea Gibson. He had better stroke production, better control of his shots, and a better all-around game. He was much more stunted by racism than Althea ever was, and no, Althea didn't have to turn pro when she did. Althea used the word "racism" like a great big huge chip on her shoulder, and I think that hurt her more than her tennis. All that said, I have nothing but respect for the late Althea Gibson, and what she DID accomplish.

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post #19 of 76 (permalink) Old Feb 7th, 2005, 02:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alfajeffster
One of the most revealing things about the Pauline Betz Addie interview was her candid take on playing Althea Gibson. She flatly stated that Althea had a good serve, and an okay forehand, but no backhand to speak of whatsoever (pictures of Chris Evert drooling were dancing across my brain when she said that). You could see in Pauline's eyes (and she has those wonderful, expressive eyes that only age can provide) that she was speaking tennis, and just that. I have no doubt that Althea Gibson's experience as a tennis player was hampered by racism. I also have no doubt that she was not the greatest tennis player- not even in the conversation. She was a great athlete. The concept, and the mere conversation about athletes vs. tennis players sparks heated "racism" debates to this day. Arthur Ashe was a much better tennis player and tactician than Althea Gibson. He had better stroke production, better control of his shots, and a better all-around game. He was much more stunted by racism than Althea ever was, and no, Althea didn't have to turn pro when she did. Althea used the word "racism" like a great big huge chip on her shoulder, and I think that hurt her more than her tennis. All that said, I have nothing but respect for the late Althea Gibson, and what she DID accomplish.

Jeffster, I don't understand what it is you disagree with. Maybe I wasn't clear in my post. So, let me clear things up a bit:

1. I don't think that Althea was a better player than Maureen Connolly. Not even close. Maureen was way better. So too was Doris Hart, who Althea could never beat.

2. Althea was a pioneer and a great woman but she in no way would make my list of top ten women tennis players. As I said, she couldn't even take out Pauline Betz who was older and hadn't even played top level tennis in years.

3. The only point I was making about race is that Althea was denied the chance to play in the top events against the top players from about 1944-1949. That is a fact. They didn't let her play and racism was the reason. Now I do think that hurt her game as it would anyone. If you're denied the chance to play against the best players during the formative years, then , yes, it's going to hurt a players game. They're not going to get much better playing lesser talent. Do you really think that by denying Althea the chance to play during those years it had no effect on her game? I think it had some effect but to what degree I don't know.

Now, finally, I want to make it clear that although I think it hurt her game to a degree that doesn't mean I think had she been allowed to play than she would have gone on to clean Hart and Connolly's clock. No, I don't. They were still better. But I do think she might have played a bit better.
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post #20 of 76 (permalink) Old Feb 7th, 2005, 02:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoanHJ
Jeffster, I don't understand what it is you disagree with. Maybe I wasn't clear in my post. So, let me clear things up a bit:

1. I don't think that Althea was a better player than Maureen Connolly. Not even close. Maureen was way better. So too was Doris Hart, who Althea could never beat.

2. Althea was a pioneer and a great woman but she in no way would make my list of top ten women tennis players. As I said, she couldn't even take out Pauline Betz who was older and hadn't even played top level tennis in years.

3. The only point I was making about race is that Althea was denied the chance to play in the top events against the top players from about 1944-1949. That is a fact. They didn't let her play and racism was the reason. Now I do think that hurt her game as it would anyone. If you're denied the chance to play against the best players during the formative years, then , yes, it's going to hurt a players game. They're not going to get much better playing lesser talent. Do you really think that by denying Althea the chance to play during those years it had no effect on her game? I think it had some effect but to what degree I don't know.

Now, finally, I want to make it clear that although I think it hurt her game to a degree that doesn't mean I think had she been allowed to play than she would have gone on to clean Hart and Connolly's clock. No, I don't. They were still better. But I do think she might have played a bit better.
Thanks for the clarification Roan. I think we are basically on the same page here, only I was very much focused on the tennis and juxtaposing it against the politicization of Althea Gibson. I personally resent the entire concept of "Black History Month", as it negates the fantastic contribution that African-Americans, and more importantly, the American Tennis Assocation, have made to the game of tennis. Yes, racism played a major factor in her career. That is a given. Denying anyone the chance to pick up a racquet and hit a tennis ball is a crime. Certainly, we here in 2005 can not adequately address what African-American athletes experienced in the 40s, 50s, and the evolution into what they enjoy freely today. It's the difference between listening to Nina Simone and Janet Jackson- one is infinitely more direct and easily heard than the other, in no small way because of natural, raw earth talent. Yes, I think Althea Gibson could have been a better tennis player, and more on point, a better competitor had she been afforded the same formative experiences as some of her all-white contemporaries. Pauline herself only picked up a tennis racquet at age 9, and didn't come up through the normal Perry Jones Southern California USLTA industry of her day. Perhaps that's why she was the standout baseliner in a sea of serve-and-volleyers prior to the arrival of Maureen Connolly.

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post #21 of 76 (permalink) Old Aug 12th, 2005, 06:48 PM
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The 1952 Wimbledon final-Louise Brough is on the right. . Before the start of the event Connolly's shoulder flaired up in pain. It was her first time in England and at Wimbledon. Coach Teach Tennant wanted Mo to pull out. A doctor told Mo to withdraw. She disagreed and went to a 2nd doctor. This produced a big fight between the teenage Maureen and her coach.

Doubts about Mo's fitness for Wimbledon leaked out in the newspapers. Brough had hinted that she thought Mo had a built in excuse in case she lost. Louise would have been wiser to keep this to herself. Connolly heard about Brough's quote-and it only inflamed her even more to win.




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post #22 of 76 (permalink) Old Mar 17th, 2006, 01:25 PM
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post #23 of 76 (permalink) Old Oct 12th, 2006, 04:39 AM
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I think had Maureen and Pauline Betz played when the public didn't care.They were looked as sideshows to men and got under the table payments. Also, they were going to be mom's. It was really until Billie Jean King came along that women's tennis was serious business.

1950's were a mean time, a white person who was successful did things differently or thought differently was accused of being a communist or having ancestry that wasn't white. I bring this up because I don't think Pauline Betz and Maureen had good competition because of what women had to go through to play tennis and the country club setting. On a competitive level, women's tennis just sucked. It was really till the Open era, the women's tennis improved where it became a tour machine.

In today's game I would say that Maureen would still be great but I'm not sure how her and others would handle the two-handers of Chris, Monica, and Tracy. Also, the power of homophobia and how it would affect them. Likewise, how would they handle the atmosphere of going to different countries.
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post #24 of 76 (permalink) Old Jan 11th, 2007, 09:23 PM
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Re: Maureen Connolly: Most dominant player ever

A youtube video of Connolly vs. Mortimer from Forest Hills. I love how Mo came over her backhand with top.

I haven't got the year pegged on this-since there's no record of Mo beating Mortimer at the US Chmps this may have been a Wightman Cup match.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e72SBQcJC6E

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post #25 of 76 (permalink) Old Jan 11th, 2007, 10:49 PM
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Re: Maureen Connolly: Most dominant player ever

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Originally Posted by Rollo View Post
A youtube video of Connolly vs. Mortimer from Forest Hills. I love how Mo came over her backhand with top.

I haven't got the year pegged on this-since there's no record of Mo beating Mortimer at the US Chmps this may have been a Wightman Cup match.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e72SBQcJC6E
Looks like she was practicing with the Harry Hopman boys before this match. Maybe Ken Rosewall was there? Angela Mortimer was a baseliner as well but Maureen had that serve advantage. She looked like she had great hands and wrists because it seemed effortless.

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post #26 of 76 (permalink) Old Jan 12th, 2007, 08:45 AM
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Re: Maureen Connolly: Most dominant player ever

To me it's always been amazing how similiar MO Connolly's and MO Seles' careers were. As Rollo mentioned, competition has become tougher in the last couple of decades. Still, Seles won 8 GS titles in her first 14 attempts (Connolly 9 out of 11), both won 9 GS titles in total, both were to rewrite Tennis history big time because both had the best first years of a Tennis career ever. Both were known for their amazing will power, both were not supported by the crowd when they were dominating and both were stopped by fatal incidents in or probably before their peak. While Connolly couldn't manage to come back (which Seles did to grab another major title), Seles didn't win Wimbledon, which Connolly surely did. Both hit the hardest shots and both liked to be in the media's eye.
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post #27 of 76 (permalink) Old Jan 12th, 2007, 03:20 PM
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Re: Maureen Connolly: Most dominant player ever

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To me it's always been amazing how similiar MO Connolly's and MO Seles' careers were. As Rollo mentioned, competition has become tougher in the last couple of decades. Still, Seles won 8 GS titles in her first 14 attempts (Connolly 9 out of 11), both won 9 GS titles in total, both were to rewrite Tennis history big time because both had the best first years of a Tennis career ever. Both were known for their amazing will power, both were not supported by the crowd when they were dominating and both were stopped by fatal incidents in or probably before their peak. While Connolly couldn't manage to come back (which Seles did to grab another major title), Seles didn't win Wimbledon, which Connolly surely did. Both hit the hardest shots and both liked to be in the media's eye.

With the twisting two-hander, you couldn't tell where she was going to hit it. She probably would have won the Grand Slam in 1993.

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post #28 of 76 (permalink) Old Jan 12th, 2007, 06:00 PM
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Re: Maureen Connolly: Most dominant player ever

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Originally Posted by Rollo View Post
A youtube video of Connolly vs. Mortimer from Forest Hills. I love how Mo came over her backhand with top.

I haven't got the year pegged on this-since there's no record of Mo beating Mortimer at the US Chmps this may have been a Wightman Cup match.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e72SBQcJC6E

It is hardly likely to be any inferior tournament so, as it doesn't look like Wimbledon where Mo beat Angela in 1952 3r 6-4 6-3, it is most probably Wightman Cup played at Rye in 1953 which Maureen won 6-1 6-1.

These are the only big matches there seem to have been between the two.

Margaret Thatcher - Michele Bachmann two strong women of our time.
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post #29 of 76 (permalink) Old Jan 14th, 2007, 04:25 AM
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Re: Maureen Connolly: Most dominant player ever

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In today's game I would say that Maureen would still be great but I'm not sure how her and others would handle the two-handers of Chris, Monica, and Tracy. Also, the power of homophobia and how it would affect them. Likewise, how would they handle the atmosphere of going to different countries.
Huh? Outside Seles she would have had even tougher against the Williams sisters and Lindsay Davenport when she was at her best.

Against Austin and Evert I always got the feeling Maureen probably would have had their hides.
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post #30 of 76 (permalink) Old Jan 15th, 2007, 01:04 AM
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Re: Maureen Connolly: Most dominant player ever

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Huh? Outside Seles she would have had even tougher against the Williams sisters and Lindsay Davenport when she was at her best.

Against Austin and Evert I always got the feeling Maureen probably would have had their hides.
Remember this. They played on a limited schedule then. I don't know how they would play with a exhausting 52 week schedule and the competition. Yes, the early 2000's of the Williams sisters would have been hard. I would have been curious about Justine Henin-Hardenne and Maureen Connolly matchup.

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